Thoughts to Ponder

In the Image of God

I am sure you have heard that we were created in the image of God. God tells us this:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." [NASB-U]

Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. [NASB-U]

Genesis 9:6
            "Whoever sheds man's blood,
            By man his blood shall be shed,
            For in the image of God
            He made man. [NASB-U]

Jew and Gentile alike will agree with those passages and say we were created in God's image, but what does it mean? I think many people just accept it without ever really having thought about it. John tells us this about God:

John 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." [NASB-U]

So we know that God is a spirit and as a spirit He doesn't have eyes, or ears or a nose, or hands or feet. Now, God does speak of those things in His word.

Psalm 89:20-21
            "I have found David My servant;
            With My holy oil I have anointed him,
            [21] With whom My hand will be established;
            My arm also will strengthen him. [NASB-U]

God's meaning is clear, we understand He is all powerful and will strengthen David, but it isn't meant to convey that God has physical arms or hands.

2 Chron. 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars." [NASB-U]

This passage is to make us understand that God is all knowing, not that He has physical eyes.

Because God is a spirit and therefore doesn't have hands, arms, eyes, etc... then when it says we were created in God's image it can't mean we 'look' like Him.

I don't claim to be a great biblical scholar, I am just a ex-street cop who looks at things for what they say, not what I want them to say. I would like the Bible to be more clear on some subjects but my desire means nothing. However, having said that, we can find clues and if we are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He will make sense of His word for us. My point is that we may not be able to point to one passage that lays everything out for us, but we can make a good case for why we believe something if we are willing to study and listen to God.

I believe that image of God and the idea of the Trinity are both one and the same idea. Let me deal with the Trinity for a moment, the Jews disagree with Christians on the idea that God is one being and yet three persons. In fact there are some Christian sects that don't believe in the Trinity.

Many people have a hard time getting their mind around God being one being and yet three and on the surface I would agree it is difficult to think about or explain. However, I think many people go way off in the weeds when they try to explain it. I have heard that it is like different forms of water, there is liquid water, steam and ice. They are all water but in different forms. Okay, but they can't be in all three forms at once, water is either liquid, or ice or steam but not all three at once. God doesn't change from being the Father to being the Son to being the Holy Spirit, He is one and yet all three at the very same time.

For those who disagree with the whole idea of the Trinity, they must explain a couple of things from God's word. Such as this:

Matthew 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," [NASB-U]

If the Trinity isn't true, then why didn't Jesus just say to baptize in God's name? The Jews get past this easily enough by rejecting the whole New Testament, but they have other problems. For example as already quoted:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." [NASB-U]

Now some Jews will try to claim God was speaking to the angels when He said 'our' but that just doesn't hold water to me. We aren't created in the image of angels, we are created in the image of God!

Again the Jews reject the New Testament but look at this:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [NASB-U]

Does that leave any room for not believing that the two are two even if God is one? We know God is one, not many because it is stated in the Old Testament and repeated by Jesus here:

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God IS ONE Lord; [NASB-U]

One and yet:

Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. [10] Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; [11] and a voice came out of the heavens: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased." [NASB-U]

In the above passage all three persons of what we call the Trinity can be seen, the Son (Jesus) was baptized, the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father spoke about Him. And yet we believe they are all one.

Let me address something else here, because these things will all tie together in the end. How did the Word (as John calls Jesus) create the world?

Genesis 1:20-25 Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens." [21] God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. [22] God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." [23] There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
    [24] Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. [25] God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. [NASB-U]

We see that He spoke it into existence. He spoke and fish and water life came to life, He spoke and everything that walks or crawls on the earth was created, with one exception:

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. [NASB-U]

Adam wasn't spoken into existence, He was created from the dust. Now could God have spoken to the dust and it formed Adam without God's hands? Sure I guess that could happen, but I don't believe it did. I believe that God the Son (although He wasn't the Son yet, He became the Son when He was born as one of us, but that second person of the Trinity) took human form and formed Adam from the dust of the earth.

Now look at this:

Genesis 2:20-23 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. [21] So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. [22] The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. [23] The man said,
            "This is now bone of my bones,
            And flesh of my flesh;
            She shall be called Woman,
            Because she was taken out of Man." [NASB-U]

Again I believe this was a physical act of making Adam sleep and taking a rib from him to form Eve. Then we read this:

Genesis 3:8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. [NASB-U]

They heard the sound of God walking in the garden, that sure sounds physical to my old street cop mind. But you say, what difference does any of this make? Well I am trying to point out that we were created differently than the animals.

My three year old grandson stated it as well as I have ever heard, when he heard his sister ask their mother if we were animals he immediately said no! When asked what we are, he stated without a moment's pause; people!

Yes we are people, not animals. What is the difference between us and the animals? We were created in God's own image! But if that had to do with how we look, then wouldn't the primates have a claim to it too?

So many questions and so far so few answers. Well I believe there is an answer and I believe that answer is what binds the idea of us being created in the image of God and the Trinity together.

Let me start with the animals. We had two dogs, Jesse and Nikki for about 12 years each, in a period of 18 months we lost both of them to disease and old age. I loved those dogs and I will shamelessly tell you that I cried as a pagan does when they died. Paul tells us that we should not mourn like the pagans when a loved one dies, because we know where they went and we will one day be reunited with them, so why did I mourn like a pagan over my beloved dogs? Simple, they weren't human and because of that they weren't created in God's image and when they died they ceased to exist. Now I know that God is able to re-created my dogs in eternity to come and I pray and hope that He will, but as of now, they no longer exist. But my beloved Mother whom I also lost a few years back is different. She loved the Lord and I know where she is and I know that I will see her again. Yes I miss her, but it isn't like the mourning I do for my dogs.

See the difference between my dogs and my Mother is a spirit. My dogs didn't have a spirit, they weren't created in God's image. My Mother on the other hand was created in God's image and therefore she did have a spirit and is alive today with her Lord and Savior. She will again be a physical being and could have written this beautiful passage that Job did:

Job 19:25-27
            "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
            And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
            [26] "Even after my skin is destroyed,
            Yet from my flesh I shall see God;
            [27] Whom I myself shall behold,
            And whom my eyes will see and not another.
            My heart faints within me! [NASB-U]

My dogs couldn't have truthfully written that even if they were able to understand it, but my Mother could have and I could if Job hadn't beaten me to it!

My dogs had physical bodies just like you and I do. They had personalities, just like you and I do. But they didn't have spirits that would live on after their death.

The Bible often speaks of souls and spirits and seems to do so interchangeably, it also speaks of the heart of a man, which would best be explained by personality. But I think it also shows us that soul and spirit are two different things. Soul most closely resembles personality, what makes you, you.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [NASB-U]

Piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit. When we die, our body dies, but our soul and spirit remain. Jesus told the following story, many people say it is just a parable, but would Jesus tell a story that was untrue in its entirety even if it was a parable? I don't believe so, so I believe whether an actual story or a parable we can take what it says to heart:

Luke 16:19-31 "Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. [20] "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, [21] and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. [22] "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. [23] "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' [25] "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. [26] 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' [27] "And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house- [28] for I have five brothers-in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' [29] "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' [30] "But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' [31] "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.' " [NASB-U]

What we gain from this story/parable is that when we die, we don't go to sleep as some claim, we don't cease to exist as some claim and we don't forget who we are as some claim. We remain who we are but without a physical body. We know we will one day be reunited with a resurrected body.

So lets take stock, we are physical beings, we are spiritual beings and we have personalities (heart/soul). We are three and yet we are one being. Boy, where have I heard that concept before? Father, Son and Holy Spirit! One God, and yet three. You can no more call me three beings because I am made up of three separate parts than you can claim God is three rather than one being because He is made up of three parts.

This is what separates us from the animals. This is what it means to be created in the image of God, being three and yet being one! Not three different forms of the same thing, rather truly three and yet truly one!

E-Mail Ralph

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August 2012